Federal judge says state of Oklahoma can proceed with casino suit

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - A federal judge has given the green light for the state to proceed with its lawsuit against the Kialegee Tribe, who is building the controversial Red Clay Casino in Broken Arrow.

The state sued the tribe in February, in an attempt to stop it from building the casino.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the tribe did not have the right to build the casino because it had violated the state's gaming compact.

The tribe responded, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Tribal attorneys argued neither the tribe nor its leader, Town King Tiger Hobia, could be sued because of sovereign immunity.

But a federal judge disagreed.

In his 22-page ruling on Thursday, Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell, of the United States District Court of Northern Oklahoma, wrote that "Congress has [abolished] tribal immunity from suits involving gaming activities."

The judge also refused to accept the tribe's other arguments.

Rob Martinek is with the Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming, a group made up of the most vocal opponents of the casino.

"Our organization is very pleased with Judge Frizzell's rulings on this case," said Martinek. "There's been an overwhelming outcry of opposition in the community and that opposition has not waned."

The tribe's desire to see the casino through has not waned either.

The building continues at the site, located at 129th East Avenue and 111th Street.

"I think the lawsuit the state of Oklahoma has brought is the most efficient way to stop this action," said Martinek.

Martinek said BACANG is planning to hold a public rally before the lawsuit is heard in court. So far, the group hasn't set a date yet.

The state and the tribe will square off in federal court on May 16 in Tulsa.

Repeated attempts to seek comment from the Kialegee Tribe's attorneys were not returned.

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